Thinking Out Loud

May 25, 2018

VBS For Adults

I would love to have been a fly on the boardroom wall at Group Publishing the first time someone said, “Why don’t we do VBS for adults?” It was one of those seminal moments in church history like the invention of numbered offering envelopes, or disposable communion cups, or “accepting Jesus as your personal savior.”

If you already have multiple VBS brands in a competitive and saturated market, you’re bound to look for new ways to ‘enlarge your territory’ and if you’re good at creating events occurring on multiple days with a variety of leadership and working from various ‘stations,’ the Fall Retreat, Winter Retreat, Spring Retreat or Summer Retreat is a church tradition apparently crying out for curriculum.

Enter “Cozy Mountain Lodge” a Winter-themed retreat in a box for women.

Cozy Mountain Lodge is a Bible-based women’s retreat program designed to help women grow in their relationship with God and develop lasting friendships with each other. Using the story of Ruth and Naomi from the book of Ruth, this retreat brings home the meaning and significance of making God our foundation.

Whisk women away to a virtual cozy mountain lodge where they’ll enjoy digging into God’s Word, uplifting worship, a time for Christian service, and wonderful relationship-building activities inviting them to participate and experience God’s story.

There’s

  • a Bible study
  • an opportunity to sing songs
  • a craft project
  • small group discussion

If this ain’t VBS, I don’t know what is!

And all things considered, the launch price for the Starter Kit — oops! That’s a VBS term — the Women’s Ministry Retreat Director’s Kit is a bargain, especially when compared with similar packages from LifeWay. Plus there are 7 sessions! That’s going to be one busy weekend.

Prefer something more Summer-y? There’s Sea Side Escape (see below).

What I found not-so-upfront in the advertising was details as to the spiritual theme of each event, if there is one. (The retreats deal with Ruth and Naomi and Sarah and Hagar respectively, but no idea where the focus lies.) Equally not easily discovered is who wrote the curriculum, or whether the “media pack” includes some DVD teaching or if your own church’s leadership is required to teach through an outline.

What I did see is this fulfilling a need. Most Women’s Ministry leaders would prefer to use something tested or proven than to simply book time at a Christian camp or conference center and rent a bus and then scrambling to figure out what they’re going to do when they get there. Better to leave it to the pros.

But hurry, because like VBS Kits, these retreats have an expiry date after which presumably there will be new ones to replace them.

Group Publishing did not solicit this article nor were they aware of it prior to publication. Neither did I receive a “Sand Dollar Scripture Pendant” from Sea Side Escape.

 

 

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June 13, 2011

Not a Fan: The Fall Kickoff Study DVD You’re Looking For

Elsewhere on this blog I’ve reviewed the book by Kyle Idleman, Not a Fan.  If you haven’t read that, you might want to start with a general understanding of the major outline of the book, so just click here, and we’ll wait for you to get back.

…This, on the other hand is a review strictly of the six-part DVD-based study package available from City on a Hill Productions, and from retail stores which can order product through STL Distribution.

Since I’ve already devoted a lot of space on this blog to the H20 course, I want to make some comparisons, but again, if you’re not up to speed about H20 — which I always refer to as “the Alpha Course meets NOOMA” — you can click here for my review, and we’ll wait for you to get back.

…Wow.  Everybody back? So much to learn and we’re only four paragraphs in. But don’t let my meanderings cause you to miss my full endorsement:  This is a very high quality DVD production that is going to generate serious discussion and bring about some equally serious life change in people willing to take the words of Jesus in Luke 9:23 seriously and put them into practice.  In fact, I’d say that if you’re looking for some adult, college and career, or senior high curriculum to kick off the fall schedule, this is the the product to very seriously consider at the top of your list.

The similarities to H20 are many.

  • Same high quality of cinematography
  • The same mixing of storylines and teaching segments, some of which directly overlap
  • Same length per segment, at least 23 minutes min. and 34 minutes max.
  • Kyle Idleman, who has the ability to look at the camera like he’s looking at you, and you’re the only person in the world at that moment

The differences are worth nothing:

  • While H20 is ten segments, Not a Fan is six mini-movie segments
  • While H20 films present a variety of stories, Not a Fan is one continuous story
  • While H20 segments can be shown in a variety of sequences, Not a Fan episodes should be used in the order they are presented

Time for some of the DVD creators summary:

Jesus is NOT looking for fans…

He’s looking for followers.
Followers who understand that…

There is no forgiveness without repentance.
There is no salvation without surrender.
There is no life without death.
There is no believing without following.

Twenty times in the New Testament, Jesus Christ issued a compelling and challenging invitation: “Follow Me.”  Jesus is not interested in mere fans.  He doesn’t want enthusiastic admirers.  He wants completely committed followers.   Built around the engaging approach of Kyle Idleman, Teaching Pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY, this one of a kind small group study examines what it means to deny one’s self and truly follow Jesus.

…Participants follow the journey of Eric Nelson, a man leading a compartmentalized triple life as a pleasure-seeking rebel, a cutthroat corporate executive, and a nominal Christian.  But when confronted with a near death experience, Eric embarks on a spiritual journey that transforms his commitment to Jesus Christ and tests the faith of his friends and family.

The storyline mentioned above with Eric Nelson is unique to the curriculum and not found in the book.  It’s safe to say here — it’s not a spoiler if it happens in the first five minutes — that this is a movie that is centered around a death, and as such it is a much more emotionally weighty production than H20.  The subject matter, the use of background music, even the fact that Kyle Idleman wears black throughout most of the production; all these combine to create a number of extremely evocative moments, playing perhaps on our past memories or our greatest fears.  Maybe for some the first episode will be an unexpected “downer;” but to do otherwise is to miss the whole point of the scripture verse on which the teaching is based.

Personally, I don’t think anyone can do this series and ever read Luke 9:23 the same again.  (My youngest son and I had both read the book cover-to-cover before watching the DVD, so we’re twice as aware of all that is implied in denying yourself and taking up your cross on a daily basis…)

The series comes with a leader’s guide and a 42-day, 160-page participants (followers) guide, of which extras may be purchased individually for $9.99.

I want to end this on a different note, however.

Because the Not a Fan DVD is essentially one two-and-a-half hour movie, I want to suggest an alternative way that this could be used effectively.  I’d like to suggest that, using the material in the leader’s guide as a discussion guide, Not a Fan would also make an excellent retreat program in lieu of a guest speaker.  For example:

  • Friday night: Session one
  • Saturday morning:  Session two
  • Saturday after lunch: Session three
  • Saturday after supper:  Session four
  • Saturday later evening: Session five
  • Sunday morning: Session six

I know this isn’t what the creators had in mind, but I think there could be some serious impact by showing it all at once, while the storyline and segments are all fresh and memory, and everyone in the “group” is in attendance for all the various  parts.  Of course, the traditional and intended format — using the 42-day guide — will work well, too. 

…I just finished re-watching some of the final episode before completing this, and was reminded of the multiple story lines I didn’t realize I’d been following.  Again, I’d write more, but don’t want to spoil anything.  Best just to say: This is a really well produced resource that shouldn’t be overlooked by churches, if for no other reason than that it has, at its heart, the core of the gospel.

Click this link to see a preview, and a message from Kyle to pastors and group leaders.


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